Directed by Viknish Lokarag Asokan | Review by Terra Budreviciute
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hiru’s Manggai is a very simple story. There’s a man, and a woman, and they fall in love. Or try to. At least that’s what it would seem to be from an ordinary, one time look at it. Truly, it’s a story that attempts to break the social norms and the traditional rules of love story.
In the past few years, we have had a surge of films breaking and bending all genres. No one really knows where it started, but all the sudden, all these young filmmakers erupted from the ground with one mission – to change the world. The process thus far has been slow but hasn’t gone unnoticed. Thiru’s Manggai belongs to that generation of stories. In many romance films, we see a couple of people falling in love. The odds are always stacked against our lovers – there’s an obstacle of some sorts they need to overcome to be together or to come out of the story having learned something. In this case, these two people are very unlikely to fall in love, yet the world sometimes brings people together for no reason. Here we have a blind foot masseuse and a sex worker fall for each other. Seems pretty unlikely? Wait till you see the rest of the film.
The unlikeliness is what makes this film beautiful. The simplicity just adds to it. Viknish Lokarag Asokan does a great job at telling a story for such a low-budget short film. His dialogue is simple, yet oddly charming and kind of magical at times. His use of language and those awkward pauses, moments between characters, is what makes this story come alive not only on page but on screen too. There are many good screenplays written out there for huge budget movies, but it takes a true talent to write a short script for a very low budget production. Especially a very good script and Asokan has done not only his best but gone well above the line to make this story as relevant, simple and understandable as possible.
Of course, there comes without a saying that in indie productions one often wears many hats. In addition to writing, Asokan also directed and co-produced this flick with Prem Sharmila. From experience, I can tell that directing, writing and producing can sometimes be a bit of a mess and in addition to that – very energy draining. Therefore, I would again like to applaud Asokan for dealing with it masterfully. As an indie filmmaker, he truly managed to focus on the best parts of his production and bring forth the product that was just the right amount of the market. He took whatever resources he had and pieced them together to make this story happen and that is something we all should strive to do. It’s not to say that it’s any easier to work with big budgets, perhaps even harder, but it is especially hard to get your voice to be heard when you’re making a short film that has a relatively small budget. And it goes without a saying that this film goes boldly somewhere where films sometimes dare not to go – into a hard stigma territory.
That is one of the other great things about this film – it’s want to deal with a dangerous and potentially society shattering matter. We all like to watch movies that easily entertain us, but this is not the story to be particularly entertained by. Sure, it has its nice and endearing moments, but most of us, while watching this film, would concern ourselves with other questions, especially those relating our hearts and our views on certain relationships and how they work. Truly magical can sometimes be the things that a small indie film can do to you.
Overall, it is a wonderful story with a heart and dedication attached to it. The product, I’m sure, will hit close to heart to many viewers and they will come to appreciate the art and excellence put in this film. It is not easy to pull of a subject matter such as this with limited resources and Asokan and his team have done it. The story, directing, cinematography, soundtrack and acting pulled together to create a dark, hopeful and memorable experience for any audience member.
Rimute Terra Budreviciute is a filmmaker, actress and singer from Lithuania. She has been a part of numerous stage and TV musicals in her home country. She is a graduate of Alytus Music School and has been a member of pop group “O Lia Lia” for 3 years before coming out to United States to study acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Since then she has been working on multiple short films and plays.